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Stabilised economy means nothing if citizens remain economically wretched, says ZCSD

THE Zambia Council for Social Development says Zambians will not appreciate the existence of a government that only aspires for a positive macro-economic environment without attending to undeniable societal hardships.

According to a monetary policy committee statement issued by the Bank of Zambia on February 22, the country’s macro-economic environment is improving.

The statement indicates that on balance, risks to inflation were currently assessed to be favouring low and stable inflation.

“These include predicted normal to above normal rainfall, fiscal consolidation and projected pick-up growth in global growth,” stated the policy committee statement in part.

“The external sector is expected to improve in 2017 and strengthen further over the medium-term. The recovery in commodity prices should help support export growth, the stability of the foreign exchange market and accumulation of foreign reserves. Over the medium-term, economic growth prospects are expected to improve with GDP growth for 2017 and 2018 forecasted at 3.9 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively. Growth will be underpinned by expected improved performance of the agriculture sector due to better weather conditions, increased energy supply and minerals production. A further rise in productivity in the transport and storage, construction and accommodation and food services sectors will also support growth. Government’s fiscal consolidation measures are critical to the realisation of the projected     growth outcomes. The improving external sector will provide a conducive environment in supporting industrialisation and diversification efforts under the economic recovery programme-Zambia Plus.”

But in an interview, Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) executive director Lewis Mwape explained that a stabilised economy amounted to nothing if citizens remained economically wretched.

“The macro-indicators maybe stable, like we have heard from some government officials, but it’s very important for us citizens to seek real answers from right governmental institutions. If they tell us that macro-economic indicators are positive, let’s ask the question ‘so what?’ For how will the inflation rate continue to go down while the living conditions of the people remain unattainable? For how long will macro-economic indicators stabilise while the poverty levels in the country continue to go up?” Mwape wondered.

“The living conditions have continued becoming poorer and poorer and just here in Lusaka, go to Misisi compound and see the kind of housing there. So, for how long will such people listen to the central bank governor before they see something that will make them to appreciate such positive macro-indicators in the country? When will the people of Chilubi Island have access to clean water and sanitation as they continue to listen to stabilisation of macro-economic indicators? These are some of the questions that citizens need to ask the government and answers should be given.”

He said a stable economy should translate into improved living conditions for the people.

“If it’s true that we have a good macro-economic environment, how are we going to turn it into positive living conditions for people? People must have access to cheaper food and other basic necessities before they can appreciate the state of an economy. So, the government needs to go beyond just wanting to have a macro-economic environment but to also change the lives of citizens. If such is done, citizens may begin to appreciate the existence of a government but anything else might not do,” Mwape noted.

And Mwape has called on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country to fully exploit possible entrepreneurial benefits from the ongoing Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament in Lusaka and Ndola.

“…there has been poor publicity of the tournament a situation which may result in some business houses in the country not showcasing their services and products but all is not lost. In this regard, we would like to encourage our small and medium enterprises to rise to the occasion and take advantage of the Under-20 tournament and sell their services and products,” advised Mwape.

 

“We expect those in the hospitality industry to respond favourably to this tournament as there are thousands of soccer fans who have come from all parts of Zambia, including those from other countries. This is the time we should boost Zambia’s tourism away from the country’s hub, Livingstone.” JC/News

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